Most people spend part of every day surrounded by strangers, whether on their daily commute, sitting in a park or cafe, or visiting the supermarket. Yet many of us remain in self-imposed isolation, believing that reaching out to a stranger would make you both feel uncomfortable. These beliefs may be unwarranted. In fact, our research suggests we may often underestimate the positive impact of connecting with others for both our own and others' wellbeing. For example, having a conversation with a stranger on your way to work may leave you both feeling happier than you would think. We asked bus and train commuters in Chicago how they would feel about striking up a conversation on their morning commute, compared to sitting in solitude or doing whatever they normally do.
Recount a time when you had a meaningful conversation. Open-ended questions require us to be engaged in what we are saying. Yes, I do. The key to asking engaging questions may be simpler than you think.
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My favorite Saturday Night Live skit comes from The Chris Farley Show, where he painstakingly struggles to interview his famous guests. Read the first paragraph of this article again. There is a very simple strategy in how you talk with your loved ones that can enhance your ability to create better conversations—especially with your partner—and that is to ask open-ended questions.
But open-ended questions are not only good for therapy; they are also key to fostering engaging conversations in our everyday lives. So, in what ways are closed-ended questions a part of those conversations? All of us have been the one uncomfortably asking questions of the person we want to impress or connect with, only to find ourselves running the conversation into a brick wall.
Try reading the second paragraph of this article again, and notice how the paragraph is entirely comprised of open-ended questions that require much more critical thought than the questions in the first paragraph. That is the recipe for better conversations.
Enter Confirm. Connecting through conversation is integral to any relationship, and our questions often determine the quality of that engagement. Do you want to create a richer connection with your partner? How do you connect better with people?
How can someone respond to the questions in this first paragraph? Although the tone of our questions is important, the actual questions themselves are the key to engaging conversations. Andy enjoys time with his family, good food, sports, and a nice hike.
How can we free ourselves from this limited way of speaking? They are all closed-ended questions, which typically prompt simple one-word answers, so what you say does matter. Which brings us to this: better conversation is more vulnerable and more intimate conversation.
In using more open-ended questions in conversation, you invite people to talk with you rather than talk to you. How to Ask Open-Ended Questions There is a very simple strategy in how you talk with your loved ones that can enhance your ability to create better conversations—especially with your partner—and that is to ask open-ended questions. When you ask closed-ended questions, you lead your conversation partner down a path that severely limits opportunity for depth and connection. What kinds of questions elicit a deeper engagement?
The point of the skit is to show how poor Farley is in interviewing his guests, barraging them with yes-or-no questions that cause the audience to feel the lack of connection or depth. You are invited to self-reflect and to dive into descriptive answers that are ripe for follow-up questions.
Search for:. And when we are engaged in what we are saying, we create better and more meaningful conversation.
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To better enhance the opportunity for deeper, richer conversation, according to Miller and Rollnick, you have to work on your phrasing of questions. If you want to build a deeply meaningful relationship full of trust and intimacy, then subscribe below to receive our blog posts directly to your inbox:.
We all have conversations with people who are not gifted in connecting, and maybe we struggle to connect in conversations. It is very difficult to share your thoughts and emotions by answering closed-ended questions, but with open-ended questions, the door for deeper connectedness is flung wide open. Need some guidance on how to ask open-ended questions of your partner?
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Granted, you cannot force someone to be open and honest and share their deeper selves, but you can create an atmosphere that invites deeper connection. Download our free Gottman Card Decksa relationships app that includes our popular Love Maps, Open-Ended Questions, and more virtual card decks to help you and your partner connect and deepen your intimacy.
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These types of questions narrow down the possible responses to a version of either yes or no. Are you shutting down opportunities for a deeper relationship with someone you love by the way you talk with them? Let me try those questions again. To have those conversations that are intimate and meaningful?